(Note: This article was originally submitted to Kentucky Living magazine as part of a package looking at high school football in Kentucky. Because of space considerations, it did not appear in the magazine, but the editors have given their blessing to post it here. Enjoy.)
By John Herndon
Josh Jaggers was around coaching legends long before he ever got in a three-point stance or buckled a chin strap.
“Before I knew who Bear Bryant was, my Bear Bryant was Joe Jaggers,” the LaRue County High School football coach says with a huge smile.
It’s understandable that to a boy who hadn’t started school, his grandfather was bigger than the legendary Alabama coach. And Josh Jaggers has the memories to go with his bloodlines.
“There’s a picture of me on the sidelines at Cardinal Stadium (at the Kentucky state fairgrounds) when (Joe Jaggers) was coaching at Fort Knox,” Josh says of the 1983 and 1984 Class AA state state championship games. “Then in 1988, when they beat Somerset in the final, I remember being at that. The 1990 state championship game when they beat Corbin, I remember vividly.”
Coaching is undoubtedly in Josh Jaggers’ blood, flowing from different directions. His grandfather won 292 games and five state championships in stops at Old Kentucky Home, Nelson County, Trigg County, Fort Knox and North Hardin.
Josh Jaggers’ dad, Marty, coached Mercer County to a state title in 2006 and took Lincoln County to the runner-up finish 13 years earlier. His uncle, the late Craddock Jaggers, also coached at North Hardin.
Josh, now 37 and a rising star in the state coaching ranks, led LaRue County to a regional championship last fall.
Josh Jaggers also has deep coaching roots outside his family as he played for Sam Harp at Danville High School. Harp, who won 326 games at three schools, took Danville to the state title seven times, including 1998 and 2000 when Josh Jaggers was on the roster.
“I played for one of the greatest staffs to ever grace the sidelines of Kentucky high school football,” he says. “Sam Harp, Jerry Perry (now head coach at Garrard County), my dad. They were all on that staff.”
Josh went on to play at the University of Kentucky before transferring to Campbellsville University, where his head coach was Mark Peach, who is now head coach at Anderson County High School.
“I have been really blessed,” Josh Jaggers says. “I have been around so many great coaches.”
But Jaggers’ DNA was also full of LaRue County blue before he went there as a coach. “My mom is originally from here,” he says. “My maternal grandfather (Gene Hoggard) started the band program at LaRue County High School back in 1955. This has always been my home,” Jaggers says.
For years, Mr. Hoggard directed the Band of Hawks, where Josh’s mother, Judy, and his uncles, David and Keith Hoggard, were members. In fact, David Hoggard pulled double duty, playing football, then marching with the band at halftime.
The community loves having a family member leading the program, according to LaRue fan Pam Bowling. “Josh’s grandfather actually wrote the Hawks’ fight song,” she says. “So even though Josh was not technically from the county, he already had many ties to the area and was no stranger to the Hawk tradition.”